Many of us know of Simply Smiles and their work to assist the children and families living in poverty in Oaxaca, Mexico. You may remember the orphanage they built and continue to support. Or perhaps you remember hearing about the houses they built for the families living at the Oaxaca City dump. What you might not know is that Simply Smiles has expanded its mission to include assisting Native American children and families on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation.
Located in South Dakota, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) Reservation is an autonomous nation within the United States. Four bands of Lakota Indians, approximately 10,000 residents, live in this 1.45 million acre area (roughly the size of Connecticut.)
On the CRST, an overwhelming number of Lakota children are being removed from their homes due to significant safety concerns.
To assist and protect these children while still upholding the core tenet of the Indian Child Welfare Act (to keep Native children within their culture to be raised by kin and community), Simply Smiles is building and managing the first-of-its-kind Simply Smiles Children’s Village in the Reservation town of La Plant.
The Simply Smiles Children’s Village is a community of Native foster parents offering a child placement option to Native children who have been removed from their families. The Native foster parents protect, provide for, and help raise the most vulnerable children while staying within the Native community and close to family. The Simply Smiles website explains their objective, stating, ” … the mission of the Simply Smiles Children’s Village is to foster Native children to become leaders, role models, and Lakota citizens of the world.” https://www.simplysmiles.org/crst-childrens-village
For Lent, make it your mission to help Simply Smiles in their quest to put more smiles on these children’s faces. Each Sunday, bring in your spare change (or bucks!) and put in the Pennies From Heaven tube located on the church chancel. All donations will go directly to the Simply Smiles Children’s Village. Your contribution will make a difference!
“The work of Simply Smiles instills hope and removes obstacles, empowering indigenous peoples to chart their own course to self-determination and a brighter future.”
Interested in checking out the effect Simply Smiles is having on the CRST Reservation? Simply Smiles has numerous mission trips planned this year. Information can be found in the church office or on their website, https://www.simplysmiles.org/volunteer-crst